Saturday, August 29, 2009

On the Couch

I'm starting to think I have this blog to avoid seeing a therapist. I look at my last four or five posts and they are all in one way or another excuses and apologies for not blogging more.

I joke about being a lazy writer as if I'm not a lazy writer because in fact I am a lazy writer. Although I am not a lazy person. Quite the opposite. My life consists of a long complicated list of things to do that I will never get done. Literally. I carry a list in my pocket every single day and have since my early twenties. On the list today, for example, I am to pick up the dry cleaning, begin thinking about remarks for fundraiser next month, call Claude, hang chin-up bar for my wife, fix outdoor light switch, see Inglorious Basterds, work on Jeff's table and, oh look - update blog.

Obviously these things go in no particular order. Items like dry cleaning I don't even bother to cross off because it seems there is always dry cleaning to be picked up or dropped off and by the time I get around to actually doing it, it is there to be done. Things like begin thinking about.... are simply there to nag. I will never finish this list. I add tasks at half again the rate I cross them off and will certainly die with lots and lots of things left undone. I am guaranteed to die a failure in my own eyes. Neat trick, isn't it? For those of you wondering, yes, I was raised Catholic.

Probably because of this list I have a very unhealthy relationship with time and money. I know when I die it is quite possible I will have a few dollars leftover somewhere, but I am absolutely certain I will be out of time. Even if I know gas is ten cents cheaper at a station on the other side of town I will not go there because the two dollar difference on a tank of gas is not worth my time. And the sooner I fill my tank the sooner I can cross off get gas on my list. It has never occurred to me to put save money on the list. It seems so counter-productive and probably bad for the economy.

Of course it's just as likely that some day I will be out of money before I'm out of time and my list might say things like steal bread and rummage through dumpster. Go live with children is a possibility for future lists as is sell memoir, cheap. That will lead to the inevitable remember to write memoir and my life list will finally have reached its absurd and unavoidable conclusion.

Thanks Doc. See you next week.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add to list.. Remember not to shuffle off this mortal coil before memoir is completed. Do you want your kids, who you've been living with, finishing it? I think not.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

I've always kept a todo list. A while ago I kept the list on the back of an IBM punch card (okay, so a very long while ago). One day, as my boss gave me a task and I wrote it on the card, he turned to someone else and said, "He always writes the task down but I've never seen him check the list."

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sure you do not know it and you probably don't care all that much but you have given this old man a wonderful birthday present. You gave me a big laugh on what has otherwise been a blah day.

Thank you for sharing with us in your blog. And thank GOD for your to do list...

4:27 PM  
Blogger Jessica Eiden Smedley said...

Thanks for the chuckle. I was just having a conversation with someone in which they interrupted me to ask, "Were you raised as a Catholic?"

I guess it's that obvious.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Maggie Dwyer said...

I had a great idea for an essay a while back, as I pulled my folded list from my pocket. I would rhapsodize on "How powerful, yet simple, this tool in my pocket. It can't get any simpler, and there is no way anyone would make it more complicated. It's as basic as the wheel. And duct tape." I had several crumpled samples I could scan as artwork. Each was piece of paper with a list written on it and a few items crossed out.

But I was wrong. I was dismayed some time later to see an ad in an In-flight catalog for an electronic shopping list machine. It had a roll of paper like in a cash register and you type your items onto it. Will it sell like hotcakes? I hope not. Just because you can build complexity into a tool, it doesn't mean you have to.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Jackson said...

Just wanted to drop in and say that I think you did a great job with your narration work on that National Parks documentary Ken Burns put together.

I also wanted to mention that I always enjoy it when you're a guest on "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me."

Thanks for everything you do, and keep up the great work!

1:06 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

We're on the same page, Tom. Literally and figuratively.

The boss at my first job denied me a raise, citing the lists he saw me carrying in my pocket as a sign of being disorganized. It took me some time to realize that the opposite is true, and now I often relive the meeting with all sorts of blistering responses (making a list of them first, of course).

Sounds like we both occasionally suffer from the unhealthy focus on available time that lists can create
...but we get a hell of a lot done, don't we? :-)

9:32 AM  

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